Worth Reading - 6/9

1. I don't know why someone would do this, but the recent (successful) attempt of one climber to scale El Capitan without safety gear is an impressive accomplishment. Those that like adventure will appreciate this interesting article:

(What Caldwell and Jorgeson did is called free climbing, which means climbers use no gear to help them move up the mountain and are attached to ropes only to catch them if they fall. Free soloing is when a climber is alone and uses no ropes or any other equipment that aids or protects him as he climbs, leaving no margin of error.)

Climbers have been speculating for years about a possible free solo of El Capitan, but there have only been two other people who have publicly said they seriously considered it. One was Michael Reardon, a free soloist who drowned in 2007 after being swept from a ledge below a sea cliff in Ireland. The other was Dean Potter, who died in a base jumping accident in Yosemite in 2015.

John Bachar, the greatest free soloist of the 1970s, who died while climbing un-roped in 2009 at age 52, never considered it. When Bachar was in his prime, El Capitan had still never been free climbed. Peter Croft, 58, who completed the landmark free solo of the 1980s—Yosemite’s 1,000-foot Astroman—never seriously contemplated El Capitan, but he knew somebody would eventually do it.

2. David French at the National Review Online argues that the homogenization of pockets in our society are leading us down the path to a cultural divorce.

So long as we protect the “privileges and immunities” of American citizenship, including all of the liberties enumerated in the Bill of Rights, let California be California and Texas be Texas. De-escalate national politics. Ideas that work in Massachusetts shouldn’t be crammed down the throats of culturally different Tennesseans. Indeed, as our sorting continues, our ability to persuade diminishes. (After all, how can we understand communities we don’t encounter?)

If we seek to preserve our union, we’re left with a choice — try to dominate or learn to tolerate? The effort to dominate is futile, and it will leave us with a permanently embittered population that grows increasingly punitive with each transition of presidential power. There is hope, however, in the quest to tolerate. Our Constitution is built to allow our citizens to govern themselves while protecting individual liberty and providing for the common defense. It’s built to withstand profound differences without asking citizens or states to surrender their strongest convictions. We can either rediscover this federalism, or we may ultimately take a third path — we may choose to separate.

3. The news has been buzzing with some coverage of Senator Bernie Sanders apparently proposing a religious test for participation in government. Specifically, he declared that belief in the exclusivity of Jesus Christ for salvation is "islamophobic." Emma Green at the Atlantic covered this well:

Sanders took issue with a piece Vought wrote in January 2016 about a fight at the nominee’s alma mater, Wheaton College. The Christian school had fired a political-science professor, Larycia Hawkins, for a Facebook post intended to express solidarity with Muslims. Vought disagreed with Hawkins’s post and defended the school in an article for the conservative website The Resurgent. During the hearing, Sanders repeatedly quoted one passage that he found particularly objectionable:

Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned.

“In my view, the statement made by Mr. Vought is indefensible, it is hateful, it is Islamophobic, and it is an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world,” Sanders told the committee during his introductory remarks. “This country, since its inception, has struggled, sometimes with great pain, to overcome discrimination of all forms … we must not go backwards.”

4. While we're on the subject, Aaron Earls' discussion of the inevitability of exclusivity is well worth your time to read:

By their statements, Sanders and Van Hollen are expressing their support for a modern understanding of tolerance. In this manner, being tolerant means you cannot make exclusive religious claims. It is hateful to Muslims to say they will not spend eternity with God because of their beliefs.

Claiming exclusivity, speaking as if your perspective alone is true, is, by this definition, intolerant and unacceptable today.

But take a closer look at what Sanders and Van Hollen said. By their own standards they are being intolerant.

Sanders is claiming that he knows better than a Muslim what is offensive and hateful toward them, even though he’s not Muslim.

He should ask Muslim Americans what they find more offensive: a Christian claiming they are condemned is Christianity is true or claiming both they and Christians worship the same God.

Do they believe an evangelical Christian who has never observed the Five Pillars of Islam is in a right, obedient relationship with God?

5. I prefer hard copy resources to electronic. However, the power of research using electronic resources is, at times, impressive as demonstrated by this post about the most common verse references in systematic theologies:

So you want to write a systematic theology? Then certain passages must be referenced, at least if you want to be consistent with past works of systematics, not to mention the biblical witness itself.

Many configurations of Logos 7 now include a section in the Passage Guide called “Systematic Theologies.” At its heart, it analyzes the way Systematic Theologies use the Bible in discussion of theological issues.

To accomplish this, we isolated all the passages cited in Systematic Theologies and classified their context by theological category. Now you can see when a particular verse (like John 3:16) is used in the context of a particular, common topic (like Christology or Soteriology). If you’re studying a passage, this enables you to see how the passage is used in different theological contexts.